Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!


Wednesday, June 29

throwback Thursday and a peek a what's happening on the farm

 Hello friends, 

after my last post, I'm so grateful for a quiet, there's nothing exciting happening on the farm week!

The days are filled with welcome cool breezes from the north that billow the gauzy tobacco cloth curtains at the windows. We've been keeping the double front doors open, which we hardly ever do, to take full advantage of that breeze. This old house is designed so that when those doors open fully, the breeze will go straight through to the kitchen through 4 rooms...good planning on Mr. Ward's part in 1864! (But also remember, that when those northern winds blow in January, they will push the heat right out of this old house!)

I know everyone's busy as you plan for an upcoming holiday (and for my friends across the miles, I know you're days are filled as well!) And since my last post was soooo long, I'll keep this one short and sweet...

just a few snapshots of summer on the farm:








And something that never fails to make me believe in magic...fireflies at nightime:







Sweet & Zesty Pasta Salad

1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. white vinegar
1 c. sugar
1 0.6-oz. pkg. dry
Good Seasons Zesty
Italian Dressing Mix
1 lb. rotini pasta

as desired: red onion,
green pepper, pepperoni slices, cheese cubes, black olives

Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, and dry dressing mix; whisk well to combine. Set aside. Prepare pasta according to package directions; rinse with cool water. Add dressing to taste and any additional ingredients as desired. Chill at least two hours, tossing in any reserved dressing if needed.

I know I'm in the minority...but I am not a big pasta salad fan. The vinegar in the recipes always is just too sharp for my taste; but this recipe, for me, is a winner! The sugar balances out the tart of the vinegar and the Zesty Italian dressing mix adds just the right zing. 

I never add all the prepared dressing at first, but find that after the salad chills and the pasta has absorbed some of it, I do need to stir in a bit more dressing.


Have a wonderful weekend...and in the middle of our busyness, let's take a little quiet time to look for the blessings in every day.




Friday, June 24

so much to catch up on!

Hello friends, where does the time go? So much to catch up on, so if you're in a pinch for time, swing by later. Otherwise, pour an icy lemonade, put your feet up, and read on. And just for atmosphere, as author Susan Branch would say, click for a little Musica to put you in the vintage, summertime mood!

May was full of spring cleaning, gardening, band concerts, scholarship and award ceremonies, and two (yes two!) graduations, all paired with the most perfect springtime weather I can remember. 



Flowers have been blooming non-stop and the herb garden is calling for us to make pesto and salsa. Sunsets have been spectacular and days have had just enough rain so I haven't had to water the garden constantly.



In early May, our daughter graduated with one of her two degrees...she's double-majoring in Dance and Psychology. With the dance degree now complete, she's focusing on her Psychology degree while dancing full-time as a trainee with a ballet company. She graduated Summa Cum Laude...an exciting surprise we didn't know about until she was at graduation; so proud of her! This weekend she'll head off to spend 6 weeks with another ballet company...her days are full, but she's doing what she loves.


The remainder of May was filled with scholarship opportunities for our son...no one knows who the recipients will be until the names are read at the ceremonies. We were thrilled when he received an Eagle Scout scholarship and another generous one given by an anonymous donor. 

There were band concerts, reunions with favorite teachers at his Elementary School, and a hometown parade. All along, his cap and gown have been hanging nearby to remind me the day was coming. Armed with waterproof mascara and tissues, I was good until he came across the stage, received the diploma, and then shook the hand of a favorite teacher. He was honored to be the one who lead the graduating class in moving the tassels on their hats...it was official. And it all sinks in.


A few weeks later was his graduation open house...my to-do list was longer than was humanly possible to complete, but when the day came, it was all about friends and neighbors sharing memories and wishing him well. He'll be at our state university studying bio-chemistry. Thank goodness it's only an hour away! 


A little more than a week after his party, a storm blew in. When the seasons begin to change and the weather warms up here, there's always the possibility of severe storms. This storm has now been categorized as an F1 tornado, with wind speeds from 73-112 mph. It came through our county with NO tornado sirens and NO mobile warnings. (yes, I think heads should roll - people were caught completely unaware!) 

The tornado path was 3 miles away...many homes and farms had damage with trees completely uprooted. We were lucky; the strong winds that came with the storm blew limbs down, but they missed our home. We've cleaned up what we can and are now on a waiting list for a tree removal company to clear out the rest. 


And along with that storm, the beautiful, balmy, 70-degree weather we'd been enjoying turned to a devilishly uncomfortable high of 97 degrees, and then (wait for it...) our community lost power. 

Out came oil lamps and flashlights and in the background was the continual hum of a portable generator keeping the freezer, refrigerator, and fans going. And while we have 5-gallon containers of drinking water in our storage, we had recently emptied the water tanks we store in the basement that are kept full for washing, watering animals, etc. The water pump for our well is electric, so showers were taken at the YMCA and a generous friend supplied us with additional water. It was only 3 days, but in the high heat, that was more than enough. 

So now, with all that behind us, today has been a picture-perfect June day blessing us with a cool breeze from the North and temperatures back to normal. Right now I have cookies baking in the oven and we're settling in to watch a movie. Yes, it's been a crazy few weeks, but after all, isn't it about the memories? Years from now, someone will say, "Do you remember when..."

I'm looking forward to catching up on all of your blog adventures, and fingers crossed, things should be back to "normal" now!

Have a great weekend friends!



Friday, June 3

Thursday, May 26

all is quiet...

and peaceful in my little corner of the world...


  

With what has happened in Texas, I'll wait to share Throwback Thursday, stories of high school graduation, and other happenings here on the farm. 

It seems more appropriate to send prayers of strength, comfort, and courage to the families of the 19 children and 2 teachers who died in Tuesday's elementary school shooting. 

All life is precious, and to have young lives cut short is tragic. 
Any life cut short at the hands of another, in such a way as this, is reprehensible. 



Wednesday, May 18

manic May...

Webster's dictionary describes "manic" as follows:

"excitement manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior,
and elevation of mood."

Why yes, that would about describe this month perfectly! May has been filled with high school awards programs, band concerts, college decisions, prom, and get-togethers with friends. In the mix was also a college graduation for our daughter (summa cum laude...so proud!) and a ballet company performance early in the month, with another in a couple of weeks.



Toss in the usual post-winter outdoor clean up (fallen branches, trimming, tilling, weeding, coop and barn cleaning, planting, and mowing, mowing, mowing) squeeze in Spring dust-bunny-busting and I'm exhausted. 

Yep...May is definitely filled with "mental and physical activity and elevation of mood"...and you know what, I think I'm (slowly) learning, that's just how it should be...how's that quote go? "Enjoy the season you are in." Not only the seasons of the year, but the seasons of our lives. To my blogging friends; my apologies that I am running behind on commenting on your blogs and posting here.



High School graduation is Sunday and I'm trying to pull myself together (note to self: bring tissues, I'm pretty sure I cried through the entire 2 hours of last night's band concert). He's decided to attend our state university and will major in biochemistry...I truly don't know where the years have gone. 

And so the rest of the week I have my giant to-do list to tackle and then we'll plan a graduation open-house for friends in a couple of weeks. 

I just wanted to pop in and say "Hi" and that I'm enjoying your posts...always a fun way to begin each day. Take care, I'll be back after graduation (sniff, sniff).






Thursday, May 5

throwback Thursday...double chocolate chip cookies

May here is always busy...yardwork, planning for gardens, end-of-school ceremonies & concerts, and spring cleaning. 

This year we'll celebrate two graduations...my daughter will be getting her university diploma for dance/ballet Saturday. She's dancing with a ballet company while finishing up her Psychology degree and will graduate with that next spring. My son will be graduating from high school in 17 days, and just committed to a college where he'll major in Biochemistry.

More about all this later...but honestly, how did we go from 

this,



to this?





Proud and excited as each of them chase their dreams! 

(and of course, a bit weepy...time flies, sniff, sniff)


Anyway...today's recipe came from my mother-in-law's recipe box and is another chocolaty one (do you see a pattern here?) I finished baking them just as my friend arrived with 9 glorious gallons of fresh, raw milk.

Just look at the cream floating on the top waiting for the best homemade butter and cheese...ahhh, what a treat!






Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies


1-1/4 c. butter, softened

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

2 t. vanilla extract

2 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

2 c. chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar; add eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined. Gradually blend in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased* cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 9* minutes. Cool slightly.


*While I didn't make any ingredient changes, I did put a parchment sheet on my baking sheet, and Mae needed a full 10 minutes for the cookies to bake, but then, each oven is a little different.

I don't think this is the best photo...but truly, if you have a chocolate craving, these are for you!





Thursday, April 28

throwback Thursday...Wacky Cake/War Cake

How the beautiful Eastern Bluebirds know when April has arrived is beyond me. These lovely, migratory birds always seem to return on schedule each year, and can now be seen flitting around the yard and busily building nests. Every so often I'll catch a quick blur of blue, and then before I know it, it's gone.


Photo Source: Here

Here the weather is chilly again, dropping 50 degrees after a high of 83 degrees on Saturday...oh that Mother Nature! Still, there is beauty all around...wandering outside (bundled up today) the air is filled with the fragrance of golden-yellow daffodils, pretty pink magnolia and redwood blooms, and the tiniest lilac buds. Here & there tulips and hyacinths lift their heads and nod in the breeze. Later in the evening, we'll hear the peppers (small tree frogs) from a creek in the woods. Ahhh, April...simple and uncomplicated.



Today's throwback recipe is Wacky Cake or War Cake...a 1940's recipe.

It's my understanding that during the Second World War, when rationing of sugar and dairy was probably throwing all young housewives into a tizzy, this recipe was created. 

Made with no eggs, butter, or milk, it relies on the science of vinegar and baking soda to make the cake rise. Stirred together and baked all in the same pan, it couldn't be easier!






Wacky Cake - War Cake

1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. sugar

4 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 T. white vinegar

1 t. vanilla extract

6 T. vegetable oil

1 c. water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an ungreased* glass or ceramic 8-inch square pan (not metal), add first 5 ingredients; stir with a fork to combine.

Make three wells in the dry mixture, adding vinegar to one, vanilla to a second, and oil to the third. Pour water over all; mix with a fork until combined. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until tests done in the center. Cool before frosting.


Frosting

1 c. butter, softened

2-1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 T. vanilla extract

Cream butter until smooth; stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Continue to mix until smooth. Spread over cooled cake.

 

Changes:

*ungreased glass or ceramic baking pan

I lightly sprayed my ceramic baking dish with non-stick spray...while it may not have been necessary, I just felt it might stick if I didn't.





I have to say it tastes terrific! As a child of the "boxed cake mix" generation, this is so easy to make and has such a rich, chocolaty taste, I'll never go back to a  boxed mix again. I hope you'll give it a try...truly, it couldn't be easier!




Thursday, April 21

throwback Thursday...

 

Hi friends, today is short & sweet...I know you're all Spring Cleaning or digging in the dirt planning this year's garden (except for my friends in New Zealand who are welcoming Fall!) 

Oh, this weather...rain, chilly winds, surprise snowstorms. What's a girl to do? Well, days like this often mean a little bit of time enjoying a mug of herbal tea or hot chocolate, curled up in a shawl, reading a favorite book or magazine.

I don't buy magazines often (they seem to be more advertisements than actual articles) but this one was different...lovely photos and filled with inspiring garden ideas. And so I curled up in my new shawl (thanks Beverly at Bee Haven Acres - LOVE those jewel tones that match everything!) 



I'm always trying to find a perfect homemade hot chocolate recipe (if you have a favorite, please share) This one was found in an old recipe leaflet from about 50 years ago...if you like your cocoa thick, rich, and chocolaty, then this is for you (although with the butter and cream, maybe not every day!)


Homemade Hot Chocolate


1/2 c. semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

1 t. butter

1/4 t. vanilla

1 cup half & half or cream


Combine chocolate and butter in a double boiler; heat until melted. Stir in vanilla and half & half or cream. Slowly heat; do not boil. 

Serves 1.



I didn't make any changes...and yes, it's thick and fills any chocolate craving! A spot on treat for a drizzly, gray day.






Wednesday, April 20

rain, snow, sun...repeat, plus that blue shelf!

April's spring-flowering bulbs are finally pushing their way up through the soil...cheery daffodils, fragrant hyacinths, flowering magnolia trees are now blooming across the countryside and we can see there's a definite start to spring.

However; in an instant, a spring snow can fall and cover all those blooms with an icy glaze.





But in April, snows like this don't last long, and even though we're still getting an icy wind from the North, predictions are for a temperature of 80 degrees Saturday. For me, that's a little too hot...I hope it's not an indicator of a hot and humid (translation: miserable) summer to come!

As some of you may have read, I've been eyeing an old blue shelf that's been hanging in our barn for ages...it was here when we moved in. And with the help of my blogging friend Jance at Prims by the Water...a CupboardScape creator extraordinaire, and lots of suggestions from her readers, I was determined to bring that old blue shelf back to life!

I'm guessing it's as old as the barn (there was a 1959 Official State Yields catalog from Dekalb in a drawer) so down from the wall it came. I gently brushed off the dust & cobwebs and I rubbed on a light layer of Feed N Wax. 

While not as dark as the photos make it look (the foyer doesn't have a lot of light) the wax did darken the blue color...but it was so dry and flaky, I felt like I needed to give it a little protection. I'm hoping as the wax sinks in over time, it will lighten back up a bit. 

I placed the shelf on on a table in the foyer, and then I tinkered, and tinkered, and then tinkered some more with what to set on top. And so, here's the (probably not) final result:





                                           



Some little  gadgets were hanging on it,
so I brought those inside as well.


I've had this table runner for ages
but never found just the right spot
for it...this seemed like a good match to me.

Whoever "A" is, he seems to have lost his
drawer pull along the way...


while "F" still has his intact!


On the left I placed a milking stool that
belonged to my husband's grandfather,
and in front, is a photo from his grandmother.  

A flickering battery candle is tucked in an
old Mason jar I had in the cupboard.
The lime/orange garland I had planned
just seemed too fussy for this simple shelf,
so I bought a rosehip & nutmeg one instead.


Trying to add more family pieces,
the shelf is sitting on a length of barn wood 
from my father-in-law's barn. 


I tucked little pillows
(there's that "pop" of red again)
in a rusty egg basket, and put some
hyacinths in an old crock
(they make the downstairs smell wonderful)



And there you have it...I'm looking forward to changing it up with the seasons. Flags for summertime, pumpkins for fall, and greenery with Santa for winter.

Heartfelt thanks again to Janice for taking the time to stage so many wonderful options for me, and to her friends for sharing their suggestions! I love it and feel like I have a brand new piece of furniture.

A final thought...

I can't help but wonder what the 1959 farmer (or better yet, his wife!) would think about bringing that old barn shelf into the house!






Friday, April 15

happy Easter!


Wishing you a happy Easter ...
filled not only with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans,





but with peace and hope.

 
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